You may or may not have noticed, but in recent weeks I’ve been making more of an effort to cook vegetarian. Partly for health, partly to save a bit of money, and partly because I was getting just darn bored with chicken-this, chicken-that, beef-this, blah blah blah. Besides, remembering to defrost your meat ahead of time and cleaning up after cooking with raw meat can be such a chore. Eating vegetarian is fun, too—who wouldn’t love Roasted Walnut Balls or hearty soups or homemade falafel?
Getting the hang of preparing tofu can take a bit of time, but is endlessly rewarding—it’s incredibly versatile and can complement a wide variety of dishes. I’m sure you’ll see it in upcoming stir fries and the like, but this is a great tofu treat if you’re in the mood for something a bit different. These fried tofu bites are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, and are just a little bit amazing!
Curious about this tofu pressing business? It helps keep your tofu firm and non-crumbly. Read on to find out more!
Fried Tofu Bites
Cooking time: 30 minutes hands-on
- 250 g extra firm tofu (about 8-9 oz or one small block)
- 1/2 cup self-raising flour (or 1/2 cup plain flour + 1/2 tsp baking powder)
- 1/4 cup cornmeal / polenta
- 3/4 cup (about) beer, preferably a lighter variety (such as a lager, kolsch, or pale ale)
- a dash or two of some spices you like—a cajun blend, or some cumin, cayenne pepper, paprika, basil, oregano, etc.
- salt & pepper, to taste
Press your tofu for at least 30 minutes before using. Pressing removes excess moisture from the tofu and makes it easier & quicker to cook, and helps it stay together better (aka, no more crumbled tofu lumps in your stir fry!). Press it by layering a few pieces of paper towel on a plate, place the tofu on it, add a few more pieces of paper towel on top, and then place a large plate (or two or three, depending on how heavy your plates are—aim for about 2 lbs or 1 kg of weight) on top. I didn’t press my tofu for the longest time and was frustrated with cooking it—but once I started, it’s been like a charm. Why press the tofu, you ask? If you understand the process of making ricotta cheese, tofu is essentially the same except with soy curds & whey. Pressing the tofu removes the soy whey leaving you with more curd, and therefore a firmer substance which is easier to cook.
Next! When the tofu is done pressing, cut it into bite-size pieces. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, cornmeal, spices, a bit of salt and pepper, and enough of the beer to make a batter the rough consistency of thick pancake mix.
Cover the bottom of your frying pan with oil. Roll each of the bites of tofu in the batter, then plop into the oil and fry on each side for about 2-3 minutes, until golden and crispy. Careful not to crowd the bites, as you’ll want to use tongs to easily flip them over. Serve hot, with a bit of soy sauce for dipping. Yum!